How to Find Your Ideal Career Path
Updated: Jul 27
The average person spends more than 90,000 hours of their lifetime at work, according to Business Insider. Where will you choose to spend your 90,000 hours? Don’t make one of life’s biggest decisions without some self-discovery first.
Career planning must be a priority. Our greatest obligation to young people should be to prepare them for successful lives as adults, including satisfying careers that will allow them to achieve economic independence.
An estimated 75 to 85 percent of college students in the U.S. change their majors before graduation, costing them significant time and money. Research shows that between the extra tuition costs and lost income from delaying a career, changing a major can cost students approximately $40,000.
To find your ideal career, you must first identify your aptitudes, personality style, interests and values.
UNDERSTAND YOUR APTITUDES
Aptitudes refer to the combination of innate abilities and natural talents that makes each of us naturally gifted at specific activities and less gifted at others. Your innate abilities make you a unique individual. Those who are both successful and satisfied in their careers nearly always have found a way to use their natural abilities in their everyday work. They are doing what comes naturally
Research has shown that if a person has a strong aptitude and doesn't use it, it begins to cause restlessness and dissatisfaction. .Job unhappiness is often caused by an individual’s natural abilities not being used, or being forced to perform tasks for which you do not have the natural abilities. If you choose a career without understanding your innate abilities, you have a relatively high probability of being in a career that you find boring, frustrating, or unfulfilling.
Understanding your aptitudes reveals how you are hard-wired for success and takes the guesswork out of picking the perfect career.
KNOW YOUR PERSONALITY STYLE
In order to be content within your job, it is important that your personality style and your work environment align. Do you consider yourself more of an introvert or extrovert? Do you desire independence and autonomy or do you thrive working within a group dynamic? How do you process information when making decisions: Do you trust logic over your feelings? Are you a person who needs structure and routine or are you more adaptable and flexible? The greater your self-awareness the more likely it is that you will make better career and life choices and feel more content because you will be living your life authentically.
“People can function and develop best and find job satisfaction in work environments that are compatible with their personalities.” John Holland
PINPOINT YOUR INTERESTS
Figuring out what you are genuinely interested in may take a little soul-searching. Do some self-reflecting and make a list of what you love learning about—as well as a list of what you’re definitely not interested in. What excites you? What do you talk passionately about? What section of the bookstore are you naturally drawn to? You don’t want to pick a major that has little to no interest to you, even if someone is insisting you should choose that path.
CLARIFY YOUR VALUES
Your values represent a belief and a priority that is meaningful to you and that influences how you live your life. Identifying your values will help you develop a clearer sense of what’s most important to you in life. If you know what you value, you will know what will motivate you to perform your best work.
Values vary greatly from person to person. What matters to one may mean little to another person. Some people know their career satisfaction depends upon helping or serving others. Some will look for prestige, while others seek a creative outlet, and still, others want flexible hours and independence. The list of desires can include making a lot of money and traveling and interacting with people.
“It’s not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are.” -Roy Disney
Embrace the uniqueness of who you were created to be. You were created for a specific purpose and to fill a role only you can fill. That makes you very valuable. Show up and be YOU. Be the best version of you.